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Sleepy Hollow Native Adam Badeau Witnessed Civil War Surrender

Adam Badeau, a native of Sleepy Hollow, served on the staff of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War.
Adam Badeau, a native of Sleepy Hollow, served on the staff of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War. Photo Credit: Contributed

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. -- Adam Badeau, a resident of Sleepy Hollow, was an eyewitness to history when Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in 1865 and later served as a confidante to President Grant.

He later was a U.S. consul-general in London and Havana.  In his final years, he was the author of several military history books.

Badeau was born in New York City on Dec.  29, 1831.  According to Village Historian Henry John Steiner, Badeau was raised in the Beekmantown area of Sleepy Hollow. 

Badeau left Sleepy Hollow in 1856 and became a theater critic in New York City.  A compilation of his theater reviews, The Vagabond, was published in 1859. 

In April of 1861, Badeau was serving as a clerk at the State Department.  He then traveled with a military regiment as a newspaper reporter for the New York Express, to Port Royal, S.C.  Upon his enlistment in the Union Army, he was named as a military confidante to Maj. Gen. Thomas W. Sherman.  Within a year's time he had risen to the rank of captain.

In mid-1863, it was suggested that Badeau join Grant's staff.  Steinersays "Badeau was duly ordered to report to Grant's headquarters near Vicksburg, Miss., but on that very day, May 27, 1863, he and his general were wounded in an unsuccessful assault on the Confederate fortress at Port Hudson."

Badeau was sent home to New York City to recuperate from his injuries, and it is believed, that he was assisted in his recuperation by two theater friends: Edwin Booth and his brother, John Wilkes Booth.

By the early part of 1864, Badeau was sufficiently recovered from his injuries and rejoined Grant's staff during the general's western campaign.  He was then promoted to the rank of colonel. 

Badeau was with Grant during the Wilderness campaign and saw the final surrender that brought the bloody Civil War to an end. 

Four years later, Grant, the hero of the Civil War, was elected president.  Badeau accompanied the president-elect to Washington, D.C., and was commissioned a brigadier general. In 1870, the president appointed Badeau as consul general in London, a position he would hold until 1881.

Badeau continued his close working relationship with Grant by traveling with him and the general's wife, on his post-presidential trip around the world in 1877 and 1878.

In March of 1881, the newly installed Garfield administration appointed Badeau as charge d'affaires at the U.S. embassy in Denmark, but Badeau declined the offer.  From 1882-84, he served as consul-general to Havana.

Bad investment decisions had left Grant virtually penniless. His good friend, the legendary author Mark Twain, suggested that he write his memoirs.  Badeau, meanwhile, had also fallen on economic hard times.  Badeau had just published a three-volume military history of Grant, who asked Badeau to once again serve as his assistant. It was at this time, that the general was diagnosed with throat cancer.

Grant and Badeau had a falling out, when Badeau requested a monthly stipend during the course of the writing, and 10 percent of the book's profits. Grant completed the manuscript on his own, finishing it only a day or two before he died. The book became a best seller, and a few years later, Badeau took the Grant heirs to court, seeking a percentage of the book's royalties.  

Badeau's final years were bitter and frustrating.  His name was stricken from the army rolls, and he eventually had to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to receive both his military and diplomatic pensions. The court ruled in Badeau's favor, granting him both annuities. Badeau also had to sue his publisher for not publishing his book, "Grant in Peace." 

Badeau died of a stroke on March 19, 1895, at the age of 63, in Ridgewood, N.J.  He is one of the many notables buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

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